Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment Newsletter: 10-2-23

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A semiannual update from Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

Vol. 2, No. 1: Oct. 2, 2023

Director's Notes

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By Jennifer Dugan

Director of Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

While the objective of this newsletter is to proactively discuss the future of Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment in Minnesota, I will take a moment to reflect on the past: the 2023 legislative session. A plethora of impactful laws were passed, and I will highlight and summarize a limited few:

  • Physical Education Standards: The next review and revision of the physical education standards were postponed from the 2022–23 school year to the 2026–27 school year to meet the 10-year standard revision cycle requirement.
  • Computer Science: Includes the requirement to create a Computer Science Working group for the advancement of Computer Science with the report available late March 2024. The group starts meeting this month.
  • Ethnic Studies: Includes the requirement to create an Ethnic Studies Working group to develop ethnic studies framework and recommend resources necessary to implement ethnic studies requirements with the report available late October 2024.
  • Holocaust, Genocide of Indigenous Peoples, and Other Genocides: Includes the requirement to recommend resources necessary to implement requirements with the report available mid-November 2025.

MDE is working to develop guidance to assist schools and districts in understanding and implementing Minnesota statute and Academic Standards. As I noted in the last edition of the Division Newsletter, our division’s overall goals can be thought of as a three-legged stool, supported equally by standards, instruction and assessment. 

In addition to the standards implementation pages, MDE's 2023 Session webpage serves as a central hub for communication, resources and guidance issued by the Minnesota Department of Education on the enacted legislation. Our division will continue to provide regular updates as resources are provided in Educator Edition, Assessment Update, and quarterly Curriculum Directors’ Meetings.

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Rulemaking and Implementation Status Update for 2023–24

Physical Education and Arts Education

This is the school year (2023–24) for full implementation of the Physical Education and Arts standards. The links to the standards are included here and are also on the Implementation pages for each content area. Implementation support has been rolling out for years and there is more coming this year. Stay tuned and keep an eye on those Implementation pages.

Science and English Language Arts

District staff, building staff, and teachers should also be planning for implementation for Science (in the 2024–25 school year) and English Language Arts (in the 2025–26 school year). Standards in those areas have completed rulemaking and the implementation dates are set. Resources are on the Implementation pages for each content area.

Social Studies and Mathematics

Social Studies and Mathematics Standards are both in the Rulemaking process. Anticipated years for implementation are 2026–27 for Social Studies and 2027–28 for Mathematics. Both areas have suggested implementation plans posted and are beginning to offer other resources on the implementation pages to build shared understanding of the draft standards and explain shifts from previous standards.

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Increased Need for Educator and Community Members During Transition to MCA-IV Series

The primary purpose of the standards-based accountability assessments is to measure student learning of the Minnesota Academic Standards. As academic standards are revised, a new series of assessments, Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments – Series IV (MCA-IV) and Alternate Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (Alt MCA), must be developed to align with the revised standards.

As part of the transition to a new assessment series, MDE reviews current passages and/or test questions for alignment to the revised standards while also beginning new development of passages and/or questions. New development is brought to educator and community members for feedback through annual MCA and Alternate MCA Review Committees.

In addition, a new series of assessments also creates several one-time opportunities needing educator and community members to come together and provide input on how the revised standards will be assessed:

  • Test Specifications Committees
  • Achievement Level Descriptor Work Groups
  • Alignment Study Committees
  • Standard Setting Committees

With these one-time committees for the Science, Reading and Math MCA-IV and Alternate MCA series, there is an increased need for more educators and community members from around the state to serve on these committees and work groups. Their participation and feedback help MDE create statewide assessments that reflect the rich diversity and experiences of all Minnesota students and relevant for all student demographics and learning contexts. Committees that are representative of our student population are essential to the test development process.

Please encourage the following individuals in your districts to participate and collaborate with educators and peers across the state through these assessment committees:

  • Math, English language arts, and science classroom educators
  • English learner educators
  • Special education teachers
  • Community members

To participate, interested individual submit their name and experience to the MCA and Alternate MCA Review Committee Database. The database is then used to send invitations for each opportunity directly to eligible educators and community members based on the need for each committee or meeting.

Invitations for the coming committee cycle will begin going out in winter for Summer 2024.

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